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Firefighters, Housing Advocates Voice Support for Maryland Fire Safety Bill

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Supporters of legislation that would significantly improve the safety of multi-unit residential housing in Maryland testified last week on behalf of House Bill 1472. The bill would restrict the use of lightweight combustible building materials in the construction of multi-family residences in areas of high population density.

"We are proud to support legislation that protects Maryland families from natural disasters and fires," said Kevin Sullivan, Deputy Fire Chief, City of Annapolis in written testimony submitted to the committee. "This bill will have a direct impact on the safety of Marylanders and the first responders charged with protecting families and communities."

A number of large-scale apartment fires across the country have highlighted the need for this legislation in Maryland. A five-alarm fire in Edgewater, NJ, destroyed a 408-unit apartment building in January 2015. The Edgewater fire chief said that the building’s construction materials aided the fire’s spread, fueling a fast-moving and very destructive fire. Also testifying in support of the bill was the Hon. Cynthia A. Carter, formerly of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis. "Our work is dedicated to helping people find affordable housing. Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it has to be cheap. All housing must be safe and this legislation goes a long way in addressing a potentially deadly situation," said Carter.

"In a fire, time is everything," said Terry McAllister of the Galesville, MD, Fire Department. "A fire in a building with wood construction moves fast and poses the risk of collapse, endangering residents, firefighters, and first responders. This is an important piece of legislation that will protect Marylanders."

House Bill 1472 will be considered by the committee and if passed will go to the House floor for full consideration.

To learn more about how NRMCA can assist in state advocacy, please contact John Loyer, senior director of state and local government affairs, at 703-675-7603 or

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